Soon, we'll crown a new winner of our annual Best Car to Buy award. It will join an elite list of vehicles we have picked over the last few years for previous iterations of the award, which we bestow on the new car that we think best meets the needs of mainstream consumers.
Unlike sister sites Green Car Reports and Motor Authority, at The Car Connection we look at cars aimed at everyone. The winner needs to be capable of hauling an entire family, or even just a couple of people, from point A to point B in comfort. It needs to be a good value and it needs to be at least fairly fuel thrifty. We also take into account the vehicle's available safety features and its crash test ratings.
But there's more to it than crunching the numbers. Collectively, our staff will have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of miles behind the wheel of each nominee—especially the winner.
Perhaps most importantly, we have to really like the vehicle that ultimately triumphs as our Best Car to Buy 2018. It needs to be something we like the look and feel of, inside and out, and it needs to put a smile on our faces while we drive it.
In short, it needs to be something we could all see ourselves spending our own money on.
And previous winners of our award have met the same criteria. Here's a walk down memory lane at what cars have won since the award's inception.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Long Term Fall GalleryEnlarge Photo
2017: Chrysler Pacifica
Reminding us that the minivan isn't dead—if anything, it's becoming the "thinking family's hauler"—the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica easily won us over. Its flexibility was unmatched by anything else on our nominee list. Between two rows of seats that fold into the floor to create a completely flat load space at the tug of a lever or two, a high-class interior with lots of standard and optional technology, and a strong V-6 engine, the Pacifica checked off all our boxes.
Later in the model year, a hybrid version arrived. Factoring in a federal rebate, the hybrid's actually cheaper—and thriftier—than the standard model, although it lost the Stow 'n Go second row that tucked into the cargo floor.
The Pacifica won't reboot the minivan segment on its own as buyers increasingly flock to less useful crossovers, but those in the know certainly get it.
2016 Honda PilotEnlarge Photo
2016: Honda Pilot
In 2016, Honda rather shocked us with its third-generation Pilot. While its predecessor was surprisingly trucky, the new-for-2016 Pilot arrived with slick styling and road manners to match. In typical Honda fashion, it made leaps and bounds inside, where it really counts, gaining a far more versatile interior with genuinely good space afforded for every passenger.
Moreover, it's surprisingly good to drive. We called it "suave, slick, with great utility and safety to boot" last year, and the same holds true 12 months later.
Competition only gets more fierce among three-row crossovers, but the Pilot remains a standout.
2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i
2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5iEnlarge Photo
2015: Subaru Legacy
Displacing even its Subaru Outback sibling, the mid-size Legacy won the 2015 award for a variety of reasons. It's as polished to drive as any rival, and it comes standard with all-wheel drive. Unlike its predecessor, the latest Legacy is even downright plush and luxurious inside.
We had an especially competitive pool of rivals for the 2015 award, but it was the Legacy's outstanding value helped it: "It’s the value factor that really nudges the Legacy ahead of every other contender," we reported.
Today, the Legacy retains those solid virtues and remains desirable in the mid-size sedan class.